Heat Lightningby Colleen Thompson
An unidentified man is terrorizing Luz Maria Montoya. Almost strangled to death in a deserted parking lot, she has no idea who is the perpetrator of this very personal hate crime. Is it someone she�s antagonized in her role as a community activist? The former lover who hid a violent side she deplores? Or maybe the partner of a cop whose life she inadvertently… See more details below
An unidentified man is terrorizing Luz Maria Montoya. Almost strangled to death in a deserted parking lot, she has no idea who is the perpetrator of this very personal hate crime. Is it someone she�s antagonized in her role as a community activist? The former lover who hid a violent side she deplores? Or maybe the partner of a cop whose life she inadvertently destroyed. Investigator Grant Holcomb has been assigned to find her attacker, but he makes no secret of his conflicting feelings. As Luz Maria receives threatening phone calls and grisly warnings, part of him wants to protect the sultry Latina, while the other half hopes the escalating tension between them will explode in an electrifying burst of Heat Lightning.
- Dorchester Publishing Company, Inc.
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 4.10(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.10(d)
Read an Excerpt
By Colleen Thompson
Copyright © 2006
All right reserved.
"Do I know you?" she asked, though she felt certain that if
she had met him, she would have remembered-and maybe even
flirted with him, unless he had frowned at her the way that he
was doing right now. He was a good-sized man, maybe six feet
two or three, and as he removed his light-weight sports coat,
his shoulder holster was clearly visible, along with the butt
of the gun that jutted from it.
Apprehension knotted in Luz Maria's stomach, and without
warning, a dull throbbing reawakened in her ribs. Something
wasn't right here, her intuition cried out. Something just as
serious as a metal shopping cart with a masked man running
"Do I know you?" she repeated as the investigator closed in on
He stopped at her bedside, too close to it for comfort. From
that vantage, he looked straight down, as if she were a bug he
was thinking about squashing.
"No you don't," he told her. "But I think you damned well
* * *
Grant felt the pounding of his heart, heard the roar of blood
rushing through his arteries as black dots clouded his vision.
But the harder he struggled to screw the lid back on his
temper, the more the heat and pressure built-until he finally
"Before I made investigator, John Zeman was my partner. For
three years, the two of us worked the streets together-three
years I trusted that man with my life. Went to his kid's
christening, ate barbeque with his wife and his little girls ...
the same family I was trying to spare when I washed my
best friend's brains off his bathroom wall. Because of you."
He was still shaking when the torrent eased, when he raked his
fingers through his hair again and sighed out a deep breath.
Now that his vision had cleared, he saw Luz Maria sitting up,
her weight braced on her hands and fear shining in a pair of
deep brown eyes. Beautiful eyes, he couldn't help but notice,
though exhaustion underscored them and they were filmed with
She looked right at him nonetheless, her gaze unblinking and
her voice steady, though still hoarse. "I'm very sorry for
your loss, but I-"
Without warning, he went off again, despite the knowledge that
a woman like Luz Maria Montoya knew a hundred ways to make him
pay-maybe even with his job.
"But you what?" he demanded. "You get paid to take the word
of a pair of fucking crack whores over a decorated veteran
officer, a family man, for God's sake, who-"
"I know he was a family man. I thought about it, too, believe
me. But what was I supposed to do, let him keep raping women,
hurting them so badly, they-?"
"The Z-man would never-"
"The evidence said otherwise," she argued, "and what's more, I
believed those women. And when all was said and done, so did
your own department's Internal Affairs Division. And we both
know how badly they wanted to find someone else to blame."
Her words carried a quiet conviction that he couldn't help
admire-even if she was in the wrong. With sickening clarity,
his mind flashed to the rumors of photographs he'd heard
about-of the battered female bodies scored by something-the
women claimed a shard of broken glass-along the inside of
their thighs and all around their nipples. Sick designs
carved by a monster, not the man Grant knew.
Luz Maria Montoya, the woman who had taken the charges public,
actually believed John Zeman did the crimes. Grant couldn't
decide whether the idea made him hate her more or less.
"What I was trying to say before you interrupted," she
continued, "is that I want another investigator here tonight.
A different investigator. It's obvious you can't put aside
your personal feelings to handle this case. Not that I can
blame you. It must have been incredibly difficult, living
Grant's laugh was ragged-and utterly devoid of humor. "Save
your sympathy-and your reservations. From now on, I promise
you, we'll stick to the subject at hand. So how's the neck
Luz Maria pursed her lips, anger flashing over her expression
as she brought her hand up to her throat, where
fingerprint-shaped bruises had begun to bloom. "It hurts,
what do you think? Whenever I close my eyes, I can still feel
him digging into me and shaking. I couldn't breathe, I
Her gaze sliced sideways, avoiding his. Trembling visibly,
her arms twined around her torso. "The whole time, he kept
screaming at me, calling me bitch and-and-"
Her attention snapped back to Grant's face. "What do you
care, anyway? You've as good as told me you're rooting for
the other team."
He read the pain in her eyes, measured how it mingled with her
courage and her furious, clipped words. And was blindsided by
the whole-hearted desire to set this right for her, to keep
her safe to go on wreaking havoc in God only knew how many
other lives. And it wasn't only the whole
to-protect-and-serve trip. His instinctive response, he
suspected, had just as much to do with her beautiful though
bruised face and the slender set of curves outlined beneath
her bed's sheet. God help him, he thought with disgust, his
better sense was swimming upstream against a torrent of
Even so, he heard himself spouting the whole Joe Friday bit.
"It's my job to care, ma'am. Now tell me what happened, from
the start. What first drew your attention to this person?"
"The fact that he was racing at me behind a shopping cart,"
she began before reclining with a sigh against her pillows and
staring toward the dark field of the curtained window.
As she continued speaking, he interrupted from time to time
with questions meant to prize more information from her. In
his opinion, she was being honest, especially when she claimed
she hadn't recognized the voice-or anything else-of her masked
attacker. The only thing she seemed sure of was that he'd
called her by name, which indicated the assault was personal
instead of random, and that he was a man. But that wasn't
exactly a hot clue, since manual strangulation was an
almost-exclusively male crime.
"I tried clawing at his hands," Luz Maria told him, "but my
nails kept catching-I think he was wearing gloves."
Grant glanced at her fingers, whose chipped and torn nails
bore witness to her statement. He made a mental note to have
a crime tech come in and see if any hairs or fibers remained.
It wouldn't be the most bankable of evidence, since unlike a
corpse's, a living victim's hands weren't bagged at the scene,
but it might help confirm or eliminate a suspect later.
"And then I remembered about going for the eyes." Luz Maria's
voice was seriously hoarse now, and exhaustion had settled in
more deeply, shadowing her face. "But I couldn't find them.
And everything went black and ..."
"So you never reached inside your purse or struggled with him
for a firearm?"
She gave her head a shake, then winced at the movement. "Was
there a gun?"
"Not that we could find. What about a knife? Do you remember
Her gaze slid to meet his. "Wait-there was a sound, right
around the time I passed out. Mostly, all I heard was his
screaming at me, but there was this popping, like cracks of
thunder or a car backfiring. Could that have been shots?"
"Sounds about right, and there was blood at the scene. Quite
a bit more than we think you lost." He tried on a smile.
"You sure you didn't bite him, clip a jugular?"
To his surprise, she laughed, a brittle sound that made her
cough. Her hand went to her throat, and once again, she
"I wish I'd gotten in a bite or two," she told him, her
eyelids drooping with fatigue, "but whatever you might think
of me, I don't come equipped with fangs."
Grant reminded himself that Luz Maria Montoya, Houston's Voice
of Poverty, knew other ways to draw blood. As did he, with
the questions he must ask about her private past. Yet when
her eyes closed, he decided to let it rest for the time being.
Instead he watched her, like the setting moon, slide back
down into sleep.
Excerpted from Heat Lightning
by Colleen Thompson
Copyright © 2006 by Colleen Thompson.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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